What is intellectual property?

Adam Keilen

Intellectual property law provides certain rights for property owners; intellectual property rights protect the “fruits of mental labor.” In other words, intellectual property rights protect things such as inventions (ex: widget or device), written and artistic expression (ex: books and architectural designs), brand names/logos that identify the source of goods and services (company name or mark). Intellectual property rights are based on federal patent, trademark and copyright laws. Trade secret law varies from state to state, but generally, trade secrets consist of any formula, pattern, device, or compilation of information used in one’s business, most often, one that involves an advantage over competitors. (Restatement of Torts § 757).

The take away. Oftentimes, the owners of intellectual property do not know they have intellectual property rights until it is time to enforce them. Talk to your lawyer – know what you own and how to protect it – the manner in which you protect your IP rights is highly relevant to enforcement, thus, relevant to, at a practical level, “owning your rights.”

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